HealthDay News — The European Union announced Wednesday that Europe is moving out of the emergency phase of the pandemic, and the EU will now focus on vaccination, surveillance, and testing in preparation for a possible COVID-19 surge next fall.
“New variants can emerge and spread fast,” said EU President Ursula von der Leyen, The New York Times reported. “But we know the way forward. We need to further step up vaccination and boosting, and targeted testing — and we need to continue to coordinate our responses closely in the EU.”
The announcement is not binding, and national governments within the European Union will still be able to set their own public health policies. Several have dropped restrictions recently, The Times reported.
Deaths and hospitalizations throughout the European Union have decreased as the less severe omicron variant has become prevalent. About three-quarters of Europeans are fully vaccinated. More than half have also received a booster shot, according to The Times.
Still, World Health Organization leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged caution, warning about a sharp reduction in testing, which he said risked leaving the world blind as new COVID-19 variants potentially emerge, according to The Times. “When it comes to the deadly virus, ignorance is not a bliss,” Ghebreyesus said.